The Open Archival Information System (OAIS) values the (future) user of the digital archive very much. This “Designated Community” of the archive need to be served by extra information about the archived material in order to be able to make “information” of the preserved bits in the content data object. The understandability of the content of the digital archive can be improved by contextual information about the archive. In a recent article in Alexandria, my colleague Kees Teszelszky and I describe our vision on how to present this contextual information about one special digital collection: the web collection.
The Nikhef website in 1992, the first in the Netherlands and the third worldwide.
In many organizations the web archive (and we prefer the term “web collection”) is created based on harvests, but is not yet preserved in a way as the OAIS ISO standard prescribes. Also the KB web collections still waits to be ingested into a preservation system. But we already started to investigate the kind of contextual information about the web collection we wanted to offer our users of the web collection. In focus are for example reseachers, who need more information about the collection than we currently are able to offer.
One of the first questions we asked was: how was this web collection started, as no legal mandate offered the trigger to do this. Related to this : what did the Dutch web look like when we started in 2007? How big was it? Where can we find traces of this history? Inside the library but also outside the library, for example at providers that already were active in the early days of the web. On which basis were sites selected? Did we cover all areas or can we see some gaps that we need to repair? And how? You can read more about our findings and ideas at Alexandria but you can find a preprint at Zenodo.